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Rebel: My Escape from Saudi Arabia to Freedom by Rahaf Mohammed


Rebel is a brave and raw real-life account of a Saudi teenager who escaped from her family while holidaying in Kuwait after months of careful planning.


Rafah details her family and school life and the events that led her to make this extraordinary decision to flee. What emerges is how difficult life is for women in Saudi Arabi, where the inequalities between women and men aren’t simply unjust but are downright dangerous. She witnessed her distraught mother’s anguish when her father decided to take another wife. Rahaf saw her beloved sister beaten by male family members after an ‘indiscretion’ something that scarred her sister so terribly as a person she was committed to a mental institution afterwards. Rafah shares what it is really like for women in Saudi Arabia, where women have no say over their lives and restrictions are enforced from the age of nine.


Rafah’s plan nearly didn’t work. She successfully managed to board a plane to Bangkok, but the Thai authorities were waiting for her when she landed, on the instructions of Saudi officials. Terrified she would be sent back and knowing her family would kill her for bringing them into such disgrace by her actions, she barricaded herself into an airport hotel room and appealed for help through social media. Thankfully, seven days after her ordeal began, she was granted asylum in Canada.


Rafah is a very courageous young woman to have escaped, but she is also a brave person to share her life with the world. She lets us see behind the veil, into a shocking world to read as a woman living in New Zealand with the freedoms we have here. She writes honestly and movingly, and while she has escaped Saudi life, she also shares how much she misses her family. She hopes and dreams of a better future for her sisters and their daughters.


Reviewer: Karen McMillan

Macmillan Publishers